People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

October 8, 2012
By Michael Hayes

Last week one of my friends sent me a link that has had a profound effect on my thinking and outlook on things and I thought it would be worthwhile sharing it on RookieOven. The link was to a TED talk from 2009 by Simon Sinek called Golden Circle which has the main message of “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Simon Sinek Golden Circle

The Golden Circle

In the video (embedded below) Simon identifies 3 aspects to what a companies does – what, how and most importantly why. Simon suggests that why you do something should be at the core of how and what you do as visualised in the Golden Circle above.

The theories Simon talks about really hit a chord with me so I decided to put it into practice. You may have noticed I’ve been tinkering with the RookieOven website over the past week, nothing major just subtle changes to the copy on a few pages and a few other discrete incremental tweaks. Two of the area’s to get some attention are the ‘About‘ and ‘Meetup‘ pages. Previously they were doing a decent job of saying what RookieOven does – a blog and meetup focusing on the Scottish tech community – and how it does it – posts from startup founders in Scotland and monthly meetup – but I failed to communicate why they even exist.

So lets take a closer look at the first paragraph of the current About page:

“We passionately believe Scotland has the potential to produce world class technology companies. Each contributor to RookieOven is a founder of a Scottish tech startup and shares this passion for our tech community. We truly feel we can have a positive impact on the Scottish startup community whilst we are all striving to build our own successful businesses by giving back to fellow startups across Scotland and beyond.”

Whilst I welcome feedback, I personally think it’s a more effective ’About’ page. The only change is it now communicates to visitors the why behind aims of RookieOven rather than simply stating the how and what.

In the video Simon highlights another reason why is important using the examples of the Wright brothers. They were the first to achieve powered flight not through having the best financial backing or best resources at hand but because they had passion. Passion was their why, it wasn’t for fame or financial reward as it was for their competitors.

I think it would be benefical to many startups to also stop to consider their why; adding this to the core of their communications and decision making.

Do you know why you do what you do?